“Feds Targeted Snowden’s Email Provider the Day After NSA Whistleblower Went Public”

October 3, 2013

Wired on September 27, 2013 released the following:

BY KEVIN POULSEN

“When on June 9 Edward Snowden stood up in Hong Kong and revealed himself to the world as an NSA whistleblower, the Justice Department wasted little time in targeting his email provider. A new appeals court filing today shows the government served a court order on Texas-based Lavabit the very next day, demanding metadata on an unnamed customer that the timing and circumstances suggest was Snowden.

The June 10 records demand was issued under 18 USC 2703(d), a 1994 amendment to the Stored Communications Act that allows law enforcement access to non-content internet records without demonstrating the “probable cause” needed for a search warrant. That would include email “To” and “From” lines, and the IP addresses used to access the account, but would not include the content of the email.

That order was followed on June 28 with a so-called “pen register order”, which provides the same information prospectively — recording the metadata for every new email sent or received.

It’s not clear what information, if any, Lavabit produced at that stage of the investigation. But on July 9 the court evidently issued an “Order to Show Cause,” which in a records case is usually the result of the government asking the court to enforce a demand that hasn’t been complied with to the government’s satisfaction.

The new information is revealed in a government filing in Lavabit’s appeal in the case. Lavabit attorney Jesse Binnall on Tuesday asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to unseal some information in the case so that public interest groups could learn enough to potentially file amicus briefs on the core legal issues. The government today filed its opposition to the unsealing motion — under seal, naturally — along with a public timeline of previous orders keeping the case secret.

“The entire record in the district court, including all applications, subpoenas, motions, warrants, and orders, remains under seal,” prosecutors wrote in the public filing.

The timeline shows that the government’s records demands to Lavabit in the case began on June 10, almost two months before owner Ladar Levison shut down the service on August 8 with an oblique message saying he’d been left with little choice in the matter.

“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” Levison wrote at the time. “After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations.”

Levison and his lawyer are both bound by a gag order preventing them from discussing the details of the case, or identifying who the government’s target is.

The June 29 pen register order may well have been the issue. A standard email provider can easily funnel email headers to the government in response to such a request. But Lavabit offered paying customers a secure email service that stores incoming messages encrypted to a key known only to that user. Lavabit itself did not have access.

Levison could have complied with a prospective metadata demand in a number of ways: by providing the government with Lavabit’s private SSL certificate — allowing its users to be wiretapped; by modifying the software to store a user’s private encryption key at the next login; or by recording the email metadata before it’s encrypted. But Levison may have balked at actively circumventing the privacy system he built for users.

After shutting down the site, Levison appealed on August 29. His opening brief in his appeal is due October 3.

“He’s optimistic that we use this opportunity to possibly get some good law,” attorney Binnall told WIRED earlier this month. “My client is somebody’s who’s very concerned about privacy rights and protecting the United States Constitution from unlawful searches and seizures and protecting the First Amendment.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“High-profile cases show a pattern of misuse of prosecutorial powers”

September 23, 2013

The Washington Times on September 22, 2013 released the following:

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro

“It’s hard to imagine the U.S. as a place where citizens have to fear overzealous prosecution, but last week’s reversals in the cases of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and five New Orleans police officers are part of a troubling pattern reminiscent of the Soviet criminal justice system — a system in which the state is always right, even when it is wrong.

In both cases, the judges who overturned the original trial-court verdicts cited instances of prosecutorial overzealousness and abuse of power, making the two cases the latest high-profile trials to run aground on the basis of misconduct by the state’s attorneys.

The high-profile cases in recent years run the gamut from the ancient offenses of murder and rape to increasingly esoteric details of campaign finance and contractor law.

In 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was charged by federal prosecutors with failing to report gifts. During the campaign season, Barack Obama said Stevens needed to resign “to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling in Washington,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, moved to have Stevens expelled.

Stevens lost the election, but three months later, FBI agents accused prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence that could have resulted in the senator’s acquittal. Newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asked the court to vacate Stevens‘ conviction, but the damage already had been done.

The prosecutors’ misconduct destroyed Stevens‘ reputation and political career and affected the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in favor of Democrats.

Circumstances were not entirely different in the prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was accused by local Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle to influence state elections with corporate money.

Mr. DeLay was convicted in 2010, but the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals overturned his conviction last week, saying the charges were based on “insufficient evidence.” Mr. DeLay called the indictment “an outrageous criminalization of politics,” but again, a Republican had been run out of politics. Mr. DeLay said he would “probably not” run for political office again.

Washington lobbyist and power broker Jack Abramoff is not as sympathetic a figure as Stevens or Mr. DeLay, but some reports indicate that the Justice Department intimidated Mr. Abramoff into a confession, and his case also revealed how the “honest services fraud” law gives federal prosecutors almost unchallengeable power.

Technically, the law lets prosecutors charge people when they “deprive another of honest services,” but it has been used as a catchall charge when the state is looking to secure an indictment from a grand jury but has exhausted all other options.

The U.S. Supreme Court eventually had to narrow the statutory meaning of the honest services fraud law, enacted in 1988, to avoid striking it down for unconstitutional vagueness.

William L. Anderson, an economics professor at Frostburg State University, once wrote of the law, “Have you ever taken a longer lunch break than what you are supposed to do? Have you made a personal phone call at work or done personal business on your employer’s computer? Have you ever had a contract dispute with an employer or client? All of those things can be criminalized by an enterprising federal prosecutor.”

In another case, five police officers were accused of murder in the fatal shootings of two men on a New Orleans bridge amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina.

The officers were white and the victims black, and racial tensions were running high. Federal prosecutors turned to civil rights charges in accusing the officers.

Despite the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy prohibition, federal civil rights statutes enable U.S. prosecutors to pursue felony charges against a defendant in limited instances even if they have been acquitted of underlying state crimes.

Evidence in the New Orleans case was compelling, and the officers were convicted, but U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial last week, saying the government “engaged in a secret public relations campaign” by anonymously making extrajudicial statements against the defendants on a New Orleans news site.

“This case started as one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the law and corruption of the criminal justice system,” he wrote in his order.

“Unfortunately the focus has switched from the accused to the accusers. The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecutor, wherever it should occur in this country.”

The Duke University lacrosse players’ case is one of the most notorious of selective prosecution designed for political gain. North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong made numerous public statements incriminating the team and turning the media against the defendants.

Despite the accuser’s history of falsely reporting incidents and lack of evidence, Mr. Nifong pushed the politically popular case in the midst of his re-election campaign. State officials took over the case, dismissing all charges, taking the unusual step of declaring the defendants innocent — not merely “not guilty” — and Mr. Nifong was ultimately disbarred.

Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said that “you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” The same could be said of how fairly a judicial system prosecutes its accused defendants. Arrogance, not ethics, is emerging as criteria for prosecutorial discretion, and the result is a society based on fear, not freedom.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Justice Department reviewing DEA’s shielding of sources

August 6, 2013

USA Today on August 5, 2013 released the following:

By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is reviewing law enforcement techniques used by the Drug Enforcement Administration that shield some initial sources for criminal investigations from being disclosed in court, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

The review, prompted by a Monday Reuters news agency report, centers on the activities of the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD).

Citing undated training documents, the report states that federal agents have been directed in some cases to conceal sensitive information — triggering the start of inquiries — from disclosure to defense attorneys and, in some instances, prosecutors and judges.

“I would refer you to the Department of Justice on this,” Carney said. “And beyond that, I can tell that it’s my understanding … that the Department of Justice is looking at some of the issues raised in the story.”

The documents, according to the report, instruct agents on a technique known as “parallel construction,” which effectively shields the actual source of the information that leads investigators to potential criminal activity and possible suspects.

Jerry Cox, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the practice represents “perjury.”

“When you lie about something, you are giving a parallel story,” Cox said. “If you did it or I did it, we would be punished for perjury.”

“These latest reports are particularly troubling for accused persons who cannot vindicate fundamental constitutional rights without access to accurate and complete information,” Cox said. “This puts liberty at risk of being lost without due process of law, which is an affront to the Constitution.”

The SOD, according to a 2007 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is “integral in the coordination of major DEA cases” and was initially created to target major drug cartels.

“The SOD is a repository for phone numbers used or called by persons who are part of a DEA investigation,” the inspector general’s report stated. “The SOD uses a database to collect these phone numbers and can connect cases with hits on the same phone numbers. This allows the DEA to link cases investigated by different offices across the country and throughout the world.”

“According to DEA foreign and domestic personnel whom we interviewed, the SOD’s activities are critical to the DEA attacking the command and control structures of major drug trafficking organizations,” the inspector general’s report stated.

A DEA official defended the techniques Monday, saying “They have gone on for many years and have been briefed, approved, endorsed and supported across the government.”

The official, who is not authorized to discuss the subject publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the strategy is used to protect sources or methods that could be compromised if they were disclosed.

“We do not instruct anyone to lie,” the official said. “It’s building an investigation another way to confirm a tip or lead” based on a source or method that cannot be disclosed.

DEA agents are actively creating fake investigative trails to disguise where the information originated, a scheme that prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and others are arguing has robbed defendants of their right to a fair trial. Hundreds or thousands of cases could be affected.

The Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana and supports treatment rather than incarceration for drug offenders, said the DEA’s actions have effectively “robbed defendants” of their rights to fair trials.

“The DEA increasingly qualifies as a rogue agency – one that Congress needs to immediately investigate,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the alliance’s executive director.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Ashland Trio Indicted for Alleged Labor Trafficking and Other Crimes

July 17, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 16, 2013 released the following:

“A five-count indictment was filed charging three people from Ashland, Ohio with engaging in a labor trafficking conspiracy and other crimes related to them holding woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor for them, law enforcement officials said today.

Jordie L. Callahan, 26; Jessica L. Hunt, 31; and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation, deprivation, and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and B.E., according to the indictment.

Their tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting B.E. and S.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals, and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar, according to the indictment.

Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded. Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts, according to the indictment.

A fourth person, Daniel K. Brown, 33, of Ashland, was charged with one count of conspiracy in a criminal information filed today.

“These charges paint a picture of the unspeakable cruelty these defendants inflicted upon this mother and her child,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “It provides another stark reminder that human trafficking takes place all around us and that we need to be better neighbors to one another.”

“These defendants are being held accountable for their unfathomable treatment of another human being,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals that force others into unlawful labor or sex practices.”

Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy to violate laws; forced labor; theft of government benefits; and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.

The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby, and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012. The object of the conspiracy included holding S.E. in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining S.E.’s and B.E.’s public assistance benefits; and intentionally causing painful injuries to S.E. so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed to satisfy their personal drug craving, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt recruited S.E. and B.E. to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that S.E. has a cognitive disability and that S.E. and B.E. received monthly public assistance payments, according to the indictment.

In or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to have her and B.E.’s public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check. They then took control of the card, forced S.E. to give them the PIN, and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends, according to the indictment.

In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed S.E.’s hand with a rock with such force that S.E. needed to go to the hospital emergency room. Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby then forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated at the emergency room, according to the indictment.

In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured S.E.’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment. Again, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

In March 2012, Callahan kicked S.E. in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment. Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened S.E. and B.E. with serious physical harm, including death, if S.E. did not clean up the apartment; care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes, and other reptiles; purchase items at the store; and perform other labor and services ordered by the conspirators, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor S.E. and B.E.’s activities and conversations in the apartment. They often forced S.E. to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food, and other items for Callahan, Hunt, and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card. They allotted S.E. only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out. They frequently required B.E. to remain with them at the apartment while S.E. was out and threatened physical harm to B.E. and S.E. if S.E. broke any of their rules, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt also threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have B.E. taken away if S.E. purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct, according to the indictment.

In June 2011, after S.E. and B.E. had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find S.E. and B.E. and bring them back to the apartment. Brown and Silsby lured S.E. and B.E. into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to deposit them afterwards back at the apartment, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked S.E. and B.E. in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside, according to the indictment.

In October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to hit her child while they recorded a video and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both S.E. and B.E. if S.E. did not comply, according to the indictment.

One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced S.E. to strike B.E. while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone. Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have B.E. taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure S.E.’s compliance to the conspirators’ commands.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz, with assistance from Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including each defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), his or her role in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Federal public defenders warn of dire budget cuts”

July 3, 2013

Seattle PI on July 2, 2013 released the following:

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

“SEATTLE (AP) — The lawyers who represent poor people charged with federal crimes across the country say they already face an unfair fight when they head into court against the resources of the Justice Department — and that’s only going to get worse if draconian budget cuts occur as planned next year.

As a result of the automatic cuts known as sequestration, federal public defender offices have recently been told they must reduce spending by 14 percent for fiscal year 2014, on top of the roughly 9 percent suffered this year.

The result, the lawyers say, will be drastic layoffs for public defenders, expensive case delays and costly appeals — all for nothing, as pricier private attorneys are expected to step in to fill the void at government expense.

“Absent some immediate action, federal defenders will begin the process this summer of laying off between a third and half of their staff,” said a memo prepared by several federal public defenders. “They will begin closing many offices. The cuts will result in irreparable damage to the criminal justice system, and paradoxically, greater expense to the taxpayer as indigent defendants are increasingly assigned private counsel.”

Congress provides about $1 billion for the representation of criminal defendants who can’t afford their own lawyer. The money is split evenly between federal public defender program, which was established in 1970, and private attorneys, who are generally paid $125 an hour to represent defendants who can’t be represented by the public defenders because of conflicts of interest or other reasons.

Because the right to counsel is a constitutional guarantee, the federal defenders have no control over their workloads. When someone is charged and needs a lawyer, they’re appointed. If public defenders have to take fewer cases due to staffing cuts that work will fall to the private lawyers — who cost substantially more than full-time federal defenders, studies have shown.

“There are no actual savings here,” said Tom Hillier, the chief federal public defender in Seattle. “Sooner or later Congress is going to have to come to grips with the fact that they’re destroying institutions, and they’re not saving money.”

Under this year’s cuts, some public defenders lost their jobs and the rest are taking up to 20 days of unpaid leave. The federal public defender’s office in Los Angeles is simply closing for three weeks in September. The chief federal defender in southern Ohio laid himself off.

In New York, the trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law was delayed because the public defenders who were representing him had to take furloughs, and in Boston, the lawyers for the surviving marathon bombing suspect have had to do it amid unpaid time off.

When staffing cuts force public defenders to ask for delays in cases or withdraw from cases altogether, it means defendants have to spend more time in pretrial custody — increasing jail costs and raising concerns about the right to a speedy trial, the defenders’ memo noted. The offices have also cut spending on training, travel, expert witnesses and case investigators — all of which can affect the quality of representation and give rise to appeals.

The cuts being required next year are even starker.

—In Seattle, Hillier said he will have to lay off nine employees or his entire office will have to take more than nine weeks of unpaid time off.

—In San Francisco, Federal Public Defender Steven Kalar said he will have to close at least one branch office — possibly Oakland, San Jose, or both — and stop working on certain types of complex cases.

—In the District of Columbia, Federal Public Defender A.J. Kramer said that his office would have to withdraw from a large number of cases. He’s already down 10 positions, out of 35 he would normally be authorized to fill.

“We’re headed to a huge fiscal crisis,” said Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, whose office has added lawyers recently but also remains below historic staffing levels. “If the federal public defender closes shop, we can’t do our work. Everybody we charge, they’re entitled to a lawyer.”

“The fact that we are not fully funded makes it an unfair fight in court,” Hillier said. “The government has full resources and full staff, and we don’t.”

Nationally, more than 900 of the public defender program’s approximately 2,700 staff members are expected to be cut over the next two years. Defenders in more than 20 states are planning to close offices. Because it costs money to lay people off — in terms of severance, benefits and unemployment insurance claims — many offices have to lay off more than one-third of their staff to reach the 23 percent budget reduction.

Several federal defenders have argued that the cuts could be eased by delaying payments to the private attorneys until the next fiscal year, but U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik of Seattle said that wasn’t a good option. Lasnik serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference, a group of seven judges that oversees the budget for public defense.

“It’s almost like deficit spending,” Lasnik said. “That only works if we get money to replace the money we’re spending.”

He added: “This is not a defense-versus-prosecutors thing, or judges-verses-defense thing. The system doesn’t work if any one of the legs of the stool is not able to hold things up. We have a need for the funding of federal defenders.”

To ease the burden on the federal defenders, the Judicial Conference might have to reduce rates for private attorneys appointed to represent poor defendants, even though “they don’t make very much as it is,” Lasnik said.

That could result in experienced private lawyers declining to take cases, some attorneys argue.

The only real solution, said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is to replace sequestration, which was supposed to be so unpalatable that Congress would never let it happen.

“From children getting cut from Head Start, to workers being furloughed at our military bases, to the significant cuts federal public defenders across the country are facing and so much more,” she said, “the impacts of sequestration continue to grow in our communities, and it’s only going to get worse.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Company allegedly misled government about security clearance checks”

June 28, 2013

The Washington Post on June 27, 2013 released the following:

By Tom Hamburger and Zachary A. Goldfarb

“Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.

Cutting off USIS could present a major logistical quagmire for the nation’s already-jammed security clearance process. The federal government relies heavily on contractors to approve workers for some of its most sensitive jobs in defense and intelligence. Falls Church-based USIS is the largest single private provider for government background checks.

The inspector general of OPM, working with the Justice Department, is examining whether USIS failed to meet a contractual obligation that it would conduct reviews of all background checks the company performed on behalf of government agencies, the people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation has not yet been resolved.

After conducting an initial background check of a candidate for employment, USIS was required to perform a second review to make sure no important details had been missed. From 2008 through 2011, USIS allegedly skipped this second review in up to 50 percent of the cases. But it conveyed to federal officials that these reviews had, in fact, been performed.

The shortcut made it appear that USIS was more efficient than it actually was and may have triggered incentive awards for the company, the people briefed on the matter said. Investigators, who have briefed lawmakers on the allegations, think the strategy may have originated with senior executives, the people said.

Ray Howell, director of corporate communications at USIS, declined to comment on Thursday.

In a statement last week, USIS said it received a subpoena from the inspector general of OPM in January 2012. “USIS complied with that subpoena and has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigative efforts,” the statement said. The company would not comment on the Snowden case.

It is not known whether USIS did anything improper on its 2011 background check of Snowden, the 30-year-old who leaked documents about the inner workings of the NSA and is now the subject of a global drama. He gained access to those documents after he was cleared to work at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

Last week, Patrick E. McFarland, the inspector general of OPM, said he has concerns about Snowden’s background check. “We do believe that there may be some problems,” he said.

The broader concerns about background checks are not limited to USIS. McFarland’s office has 47 open investigations into alleged wrongdoing by individuals in the background checks industry, according to a statement from the inspector general’s office. Separately, since 2006, the watchdog has won convictions in 18 cases in which employees claimed to have verified information that ultimately turned out to be false or not even checked.

“There is an alarmingly insufficient level of oversight of the federal investigative-services program,” McFarland said last week in congressional testimony. “A lack of independent verification of the organization that conducts these important background investigations is a clear threat to national security.”

McFarland’s office declined to comment on the details of the investigation. “We have never indicated whether the case was criminal, civil, or administrative,” a statement from the office said.

Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said USIS is the subject of a criminal probe as a result of a “systematic failure” to conduct background checks. She did not elaborate. A spokesperson said Thursday that the senator stands by her statement.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, said he plans to introduce legislation within two weeks to increase oversight of the security clearance process, including giving inspectors general more power to audit funding and other aspects of the massive effort to provide 4.9 million Americans with authorized access to classified and other sensitive government information.

“I cannot believe that this is handled in such a shoddy and cavalier manner,” Tester said in an interview Thursday. “I personally believe that if you are under criminal investigation, you should be suspended from the process until it is resolved.”

Tester added: “We have spent hundreds of billions in this country trying to keep classified information classified and to keep people from outside coming in. And what we see here is that we have a problem from the inside.”

USIS, which was spun off from the federal government in the 1990s, has become the dominant player in the background checks business. It does about 45 percent of all background checks for OPM, according to congressional staffers. USIS has 7,000 employees.

USIS has been under financial pressure in recent years because of federal cutbacks and less generous contracts from the government, according to financial analysts working at Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. The firm’s parent company, Altegrity, is owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm. USIS has two main competitors, KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Outside Box, Federal Judges Offer Addicts a Free Path”

May 30, 2013

The New York Times on March 1, 2013 released the following:

By MOSI SECRET

“Federal judges around the country are teaming up with prosecutors to create special treatment programs for drug-addicted defendants who would otherwise face significant prison time, an effort intended to sidestep drug laws widely seen as inflexible and overly punitive.

The Justice Department has tentatively embraced the new approach, allowing United States attorneys to reduce or even dismiss charges in some drug cases.

The effort follows decades of success for “drug courts” at the state level, which legal experts have long cited as a less expensive and more effective alternative to prison for dealing with many low-level repeat offenders.

But it is striking that the model is spreading at the federal level, where judges have increasingly pushed back against rules that restrict their ability to make their own determination of appropriate sentences.

So far, federal judges have instituted programs in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. About 400 defendants have been involved nationwide.

In Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, Judge John Gleeson issued an opinion praising the new approach as a way to address swelling prison costs and disproportionate sentences for drug trafficking.

“Presentence programs like ours and those in other districts mean that a growing number of courts are no longer reflexively sentencing federal defendants who do not belong in prison to the costly prison terms recommended by the sentencing guidelines,” Judge Gleeson wrote.

The opinion came a year after Judge Gleeson, with the federal agency known as Pretrial Services, started a program that made achieving sobriety an incentive for drug-addicted defendants to avoid prison. The program had its first graduate this year: Emily Leitch, a Brooklyn woman with a long history of substance abuse who was arrested entering the country at Kennedy International Airport with over 13 kilograms of cocaine, about 30 pounds, in her luggage.

“I want to thank the federal government for giving me a chance,” Ms. Leitch said. “I always wanted to stand up as a sober person.”

The new approach is being prompted in part by the Obama administration, which previously supported legislation that scaled back sentences for crimes involving crack cocaine. The Justice Department has supported additional changes to the federal sentencing guidelines to permit the use of drug or mental health treatment as an alternative to incarceration for certain low-level offenders and changed its own policies to make those options more available.

“We recognize that imprisonment alone is not a complete strategy for reducing crime,” James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general, said in a statement. “Drug courts, re-entry courts and other related programs along with enforcement are all part of the solution.”

For nearly 30 years, the United States Sentencing Commission has established guidelines for sentencing, a role it was given in 1984 after studies found that federal judges were giving defendants widely varying sentences for similar crimes. The commission’s recommendations are approved by Congress, causing judges to bristle at what they consider interference with their judicial independence.

“When you impose a sentence that you believe is unjust, it is a very difficult thing to do,” Stefan R. Underhill, a federal judge in Connecticut, said in an interview. “It feels wrong.”

The development of drug courts may meet resistance from some Republicans in Congress.

“It is important that courts give deference to Congressional authority over sentencing,” Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, a member and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. He said sentencing should not depend “on what judge happens to decide the case or what judicial circuit the defendant happens to be in.”

At the state level, pretrial drug courts have benefited from bipartisan support, with liberals supporting the programs as more focused on rehabilitation, and conservatives supporting them as a way to cut spending.

Under the model being used in state and federal courts, defendants must accept responsibility for their crimes and agree to receive drug treatment and other social services and attend regular meetings with judges who monitor their progress. In return for successful participation, they receive a reduced sentence or no jail time at all. If they fail, they are sent to prison.

The drug court option is not available to those facing more serious charges, like people accused of being high-level dealers or traffickers, or accused of a violent crime. (These programs differ from re-entry drug courts, which federal judges have long used to help offenders integrate into society after prison.)

In interviews, the federal judges who run the other programs pointed to a mix of reasons for their involvement.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez ran a state drug court in Seattle before he was appointed to the federal bench. “People that have a serious addiction, you can put them in custody, but the minute you put them back in the community, they go back to the same thing and lo and behold you see them again,” Judge Martinez said in an interview.

Some of the most pointed criticism of the status quo has come from Judge Gleeson, a former federal prosecutor. The drug court he helped set up is open to defendants who committed a range of nonviolent crimes, like fraud and selling prescription pills, and whose addictions fueled their actions.

In a 35-page opinion he issued this week, he criticized the Justice Department for charging defendants with drug offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, urged the Sentencing Commission to reduce the guideline range for many drug offenses and called for more programs that divert defendants from prison time.

The opinion chronicled the case of three graduates of the drug court, including Ms. Leitch, 29. The daughter of two addicted parents, she began smoking marijuana daily and later snorting cocaine at a young age, stealing to pay for her drug habit.

After a visit with her children to Guyana, where her father lives, she was paid over $30,000 to transport drugs back to the United States. Customs agents at Kennedy found the cocaine and charged her with importing and possessing the drug, which carried a three-year sentence under federal guidelines.

Though she showed up high at a court hearing, causing her to be jailed for a time, Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold offered her a slot a year ago in the district’s new drug court. She later took parenting courses, earned a general equivalency diploma and got a commercial bus driver’s license — with government subsidies for some of those efforts. She now drives a bus in Nassau County.

Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said she backed the program because drug courts elsewhere had lowered recidivism rates. “Our overall strategy of law enforcement and crime prevention isn’t just incarceration,” Ms. Lynch said.

At a sentencing hearing for Ms. Leitch last month, a prosecutor vacated her guilty plea and agreed to dismiss the charges if she did not use drugs or get arrested for 18 months. After the hearing, Judge Gleeson offered some encouraging words for the defendant, and then a hug.

“I don’t know them as just the judge,” Ms. Leitch said later. “People see judges as the bad guy. They get deeper. They get to know who you are.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.